By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In May, a Manhattan Jury acquitted two police officers of raping an intoxicated woman in her apartment while on duty in 2008. The officers were convicted of official misconduct, however, and were immediately fired by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly for returning repeatedly to the woman's apartment without notifying their superiors.
In media interviews following the widely reported and controversial acquittal, jurors cited a "lack of corroboration," such as DNA evidence, to tie 9th Precinct Patrol Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata to the alleged December 2008 sexual assault. The verdict sparked protests and criticism of the jury, defense attorneys, and prosecutors.
What wasn't reported, and what the jury never heard, was that Mata and Moreno had another documented and troubling encounter with an intoxicated young woman outside an East Village bar in August 2008, just a few months before the alleged sexual assault.
In the August incident, Mata and Moreno were accused of being verbally abusive to a woman, calling her a "cunt" and a "bitch," among other things. They pushed her around, causing scratches and bruises on her wrists. They refused to take her criminal complaint for theft. They refused to identify themselves. They detained her twice on specious grounds, never read her Miranda rights, held her for several hours, and let her go without explaining why she had been arrested.
The Voice has learned that the Manhattan District Attorney's office was not only aware of this second incident (investigators interviewed the second woman in 2009), but chose not to introduce it into evidence at trial. In addition, documents show that the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated—in other words, considered credible—the woman's account for offensive language and recommended that the NYPD charge the officers with violating department rules. (Both were involved, but the CCRB only substantiated allegations against Mata.)
"I was shocked and upset that they didn't use my case in the trial," says the now-24-year-old Long Island University graduate student, whom we'll call Caitlin. (The Voice is withholding her identity at her request.) "My case could have helped. You had another example of severe misconduct involving the same officers—abuse of power, involving the opposite sex, a vulnerable victim. It shows a pattern of misconduct."
The rules on introducing what are known in legal jargon as "prior bad acts" are very strict, but they can be raised in some situations if the defendant takes the stand. Since both Mata and Moreno testified, prosecutors theoretically could have brought in Caitlin's case on cross-examination. But they may have felt the case would not have had an impact on the outcome, that it wasn't relevant to the rape allegation, or they didn't think it would be allowed in by a judge.
Asked why Caitlin's case was not introduced, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said she could not comment on trial decisions and what evidence is admissible.
CCRB spokeswoman Linda Sachs confirmed that the agency investigated an encounter on that date. "It's not our practice to comment on the specifics of any particular complaint," Sachs tells the Voice.
Chad Siegel, who represented Moreno along with Joseph Tacopina, said he wasn't previously aware of the allegation. "It sounds like someone who is disorderly got arrested and now wants to capitalize on what happened," he says. "It sounds like sour grapes to me."
Siegel adds that neither officer had poor disciplinary records: "My guess is that even the D.A.'s Office discredited her. If they thought it was relevant, they would have used it."
Edward Mandery, Mata's lawyer, tells the Voice, "The prosecution saw it for exactly what it was, that this wasn't anything of substance. People make complaints about police officers every single day."
"She's in a bar, they are refusing to serve her, what does that tell you?" he adds. "The D.A. left no stone unturned in this case, and they didn't feel this was in any way relevant. There's a reason for that."
Caitlin, of Dominican descent, was raised in Queens by her grandparents. She attended the High School for Arts and Business, and then LIU, where she majored in English and graduated with honors. She has worked as an investigator for a public defender's office, and has traveled widely. She is currently seeking a master's degree in public administration at LIU, and wants to start a nonprofit focusing on international women's issues. She has never been previously arrested, and has no criminal record.
On August 21, 2008, Caitlin had been drinking for several hours with friends in a Village dive called Cheap Shots, at First Avenue and 9th Street. The bar, in a former butcher's shop, has plywood floors and walls covered in graffiti.
Caitlin, then 21 and still an undergrad, was celebrating. She was planning to go to India that week for a study-abroad program to help her obtain her undergraduate degree at LIU. Late in the evening, Caitlin's friend asked for two last shots. The bartender refused to serve him, they argued, and she ordered them to leave.
Outside on the sidewalk, Caitlin encountered a group of teens. She was holding a tote bag in her arms, which contained her cell phone, her friend's cell phone, and their wallets. Her friend was in the bathroom.
I agree wid ....Louis Profeta....................Funny, I'd walk Village streets and felt very safe laughing and walking
Why does the voice give a dominican female the alias of "Caitlin" which is as Irish as guiness and shamrocks. Why no Lupe or Maria. This is another case of political correctness run amok
One night while having cocktails on Christerpher Street at a singing piano bar, jammed,Marie Crisis, someone called out, Pacino's outside filming, I just saw Godfather, I rushed out and there he was very short, I thought he'd be 7 foot, he was very annoyed at having to redo so many takes at a next door bar, but he was laughing, he's very real.
There are some factors in NYC now that you have to be extremely careful where you step, it has nothing to do with dogs, hear me?
The Village Voice was the inside news of the youth quake.The were not afraid to comment on everything making smoke or noise, in a very satirical way, laughing.
Funny, I'd walk Village streets and felt very safe laughing and walking with the "arty" set, it's why I went as a young man and see the long haired ladies, many I knew at Uta Hagen Acting Studio, what fun being so expressive.
A savage and ruthless act towark the freedom of all women, I was very upset at the negation of the safety of all New Yorkers, it was always a night time city of lights, now I'm even afraid with good reason, sad to see NYC quiet, their was such life in the 60's when I walked the streets. In Paris now, you could walk the mysterous walk every evening and fall in love with Paris, the city.
I think this is quite unfair to the Manhattan DA. That evidence is just flat out inadmissible, which you dismiss as "jargon" but what lawyers and judges call the Rules of Evidence. You can't admit evidence to prove that a person acted in conformity with the act again, except for a few exceptions which don't seem to apply here. Even if you could, I sincerely doubt it's even relevant (also legal "jargon") because it doesn't establish anything about the charge.
If you introduce it when the person testifies, there are even fewer exceptions most of which are used to impeach a person. So if they said at trial there were no prior incidents, you could do it then, but even then the jury isn't supposed to consider that evidence towards the charge... it's only supposed to show that the person is a liar and generally not credible.
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So does the 9th Precinct with the C word. An unnamed subordinate male at the 9th was being reprimanded by a female lt. for chronic lateness and he called her a c//t. Is that the catch word for women at the precinct or was that Moreno? Just wondering....? http://suzannahbtroy.blogspot....
It appears to us readers of credible US media, that America's cops are a selected into policing based on a predisposition to anti-social and violent behaviours and that, as in Canada, they are a protected class by another protected anti-social class - our politicians and prosecutors.
Aren't the pervasive 'terrorism' laws available to the victims of these three classes which terrorize the rest of us ordinary citizens?
What about the more normal police -can't they prevent their cop thugs from continuing to smear all of them?
We Canadians faced the new cop-thugs of our government at the G8 squander mania of July 2010, and understand clearly what an infection of American-style cop thuggery and immunity means to our social well being.
I hope that all victims of cops, politicians and prosecutors develop measures that are effective and legal to fell those who are an internal 'al qaeda' of thuggery.
NY Attorney General MUST immediately investigate! If 'Caitlins' allegations are true, Caitlin AND the recent complainant have been diserviced by NYOD, NY, U.S.!!!
"It sounds like someone who is disorderly got arrested and now wants to capitalize on what happened," he says.
"Someone who IS disorderly." What a dumbass. Ya, bitch was outta line, so da boys gaffled 'er up a little. What? She shouldn't have had too many.